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Potential name change, business philosophy, kinda long...

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by mnlefty, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. mnlefty

    mnlefty Senior Member
    Messages: 980

    Ok this may get a little long winded, but bear with me. In the early spring of 2010 I bought an established lawn care company... xxx Lawns as the company name. We're an upscale lawn service, not insanely high end, but service above the typical mow and blow. Almost exclusively residential service, with a pretty large percentage what I would call high end. The previous owner did an outstanding job of creating a "brand" from the logo, to colors, to signage on the truck etc... he also never did snow removal.

    Last season we waded cautiously into snow removal and I was very happy with our service levels, revenue, profit, etc... and we had quite the winter. We did all residential with a toolcat and blower... I'm looking at rolling over to the tractor/inverted blower setup this year and I believe my market is ripe for our service to really take off.

    As I look at making a large marketing push to gain snow customers who are not our lawn customers, I am considering adding another DBA or assumed name to advertise as xxx services or xxx snow, with the xxx being the same as our -lawns name. A couple thoughts and reasons...

    - Marketing snow services do we appear to be a more professional snow service with services/snow name rather than xxx lawns?
    - Hypothetical, if we added 100 homes for snow this year, I am not interested in adding more than approx 10-20 lawns to our summer schedule. By not using our xxxlawns name, it would allow a little more flexibility to either turn down or sub out new lawn work that we may not be interested in adding.
    - I've considered going to xxx lawn & snow, or xxx services across the board, but I am hesitant to change the name in the eyes of our existing customers. As I mentioned we have certainly "branded" ourselves, and I don't want them to possibly have the thought that we may not be as interested or focused on their lawn work.
    - Our 4 biggest competitors for year round service do not have "lawn" or "landscape" in their name

    I'm sure there's more I could go on about, but that should get it started. Am I overthinking what the new customers would perceive from a "lawn" company? Am I being too concerned about what our current customers would think of a slight name change? Thoughts?
  2. Moonlighter

    Moonlighter Senior Member
    Messages: 643

    If you have a branded company that is widely recognizable already add snow plowing to your list of services and roll with what you got. Why change a good thing to add a service? If you are that worried about having too many lawn customers then tell them, "I am sorry but our routes a full and we are not adding another at this time, but we will gladly take care of your snow removal needs." Just my 2 cent's.
  3. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,584

    There's quite a stigma around here when it comes to "lawn and snow" companies. Every lawn company does snow, whereas we're a snow company that dabbles in the green industry very very little. I get people all the time that think I'm off my rocker when I tell them we don't mow or landscape in the summer time, it seems that everyone just assumes the 2 go hand in hand. The snow customers we service "get it" that just because someone has all week to get a lawn mowed, doesn't mean they're going to be able to perform well at 5:00am when it's snowing an inch an hour and they need to open for business in 2 hours, most have had horrific experiences with the lawn jockeys before hiring us. I have zero desire to mow lawns or landscape, the heat sucks, the dust sucks, the bugs suck, allergies suck, the pay sucks, etc, etc. but I love playing in the snow, and focus 100% of my energy there instead of an area I could care less about "just to pay the bills". Anyway, based on this stigma, if you already have an established lawn company, it's pretty easy to add snow plowing, as that's how 99% of the guys around here do it, and the average residential customer sees it that way. Adding another entity just for snow wouldn't make sense to me if you have no intention of discontinuing the lawn end of things, it just seems as though it would add paperwork on your end and confusion on the customer's part.
  4. mnlefty

    mnlefty Senior Member
    Messages: 980

    All makes sense. I guess it's the long term vision that I left out that has me wondering as well. I'm ready to take the snow as far as it can go, saturate my market and move to the neighboring towns. If I could push the snow to 500 or more drives over the span of some years I would be thrilled, whereas the lawn work not so much. I would be happy to stay as is for lawn work, or possibly cut back my own day to day involvement and hand it over to my right hand man, or even sell it off down the road if the snow would become what I think it can. I am married to the lawn portion for awhile, due to the purchase/debt service. In an ideal world I would eventually like to become a "property management" company, who handles snow, and maybe a select few summer services in house, and sub out any other summer work I can gather. Hence, 5-10 years from now I don't want to be xxx Lawns, a snow company that doesn't actually do lawn care.

    I agree though, it doesn't make much sense to change now. We're branded to our customers because of a consistent presentation of logos/colors etc... from our bills to website to marketing mailers to our trucks. Being recognized by our look is much more important than the actual name of the company IMO. Possibly down the road as we look at taking the snow work into areas where we don't do lawns currently, or if/when the snow becomes the dominant portion of our business it would make more sense and be a more logical change.
  5. Moonlighter

    Moonlighter Senior Member
    Messages: 643

    And all that is not to mention the level of service and quality work that is already attached to the branded entity.

    Wizardsr - I am with you all the way, everyone else can mow, blow and play in the heat, bring me the snow and ice and I am happier then pigs in slop.
  6. csi.northcoast

    csi.northcoast Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    my 2 centas....KISS keep it simple stupid......you already have a "name people know and trust...by changing it you are only muddying the waters... i understadn about the stigma thing, i only do snow commercially period, but i do have a separate business that does construction./ demolition... ( long story ) they each have 2 sep phones, insurance etc. but that was not my choice..but in some ways it works out just fine
  7. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    We are xxx landscape, and only around 25% of revenue comes from landscaping (and that's only to keep select employees working year round and service select properties year round) in my opinion you should keep the name you have as that is your brand and according to you have a solid reputation associated with it.
  8. ryde307

    ryde307 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,145

    I agree with others. Keep your name and spend the effort marketing xxx lawns or whatever you comapny name is does snow. Not we are xxx snow but we are also xxx lawns and so on.

    Side note after being on here for awhile I looked at the tractor blower idea for drives. I am very impressed with some on here and what they do. I figured they are onto something and it could be huge here. After lots of talk and thinking we decided not for us at this time. But someone needs to capitalize on it so good louck.
    Not sure where you are in Minnesota but if anywhere near Edina, South Minneapolis or uptown area I think it would do very well.
  9. Solaris

    Solaris Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    i'm facing a similar situation, I'm currently operating as XXXX landscaping and yard services, now that doesn't really say anything about snow removal, so I will also be operating as XXXX snow services during the winter months, the XXX keeps my brand name for both but at the same time ties both of my seasons together and allows me to target specific markets and segments with each "umbrella" per say...
  10. Fire_n_Ice

    Fire_n_Ice Senior Member
    Messages: 242

    Anytime you talk to anyone about running a successful business and/or expanding a business, they beat into your head that it is "all about brand recognition". You have already established a "brand" why fix what isn't broken? Around here, I do just that...I cut a handful of lawns but plow as many lots as humanly possible. I don't ever necessarily turn business away, I just take the clients info and pass them on to a friend that also services that area. I of course have worked a kickback system for "finding" his clients. But my strong recommendation is that you DO NOT change your businesses name! Leave it as is and add to your service list. If at some point you completely change your business' direction (essentially changing your whole operation - a.k.a. becoming only property management) IMO that would def warrant a name and BRAND change to effectively market your self and eliminate all of the other "pestering" phone calls requesting services that you no longer provide. xxx Lawns will always be known for providing upscale lawn care. Even if you branched out into only doing property management, you would still get phone calls for lawn care, because thats what that "brand" is known for.

    Hope that rambling makes sense.... just my $.02